Foreign policy chief suggests EU military mission to protect Libya cease-fire

The EU should consider sending troops to war-torn Libya to enforce a cease-fire between the country’s rival factions, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. 

“If there is a cease-fire in Libya, then the EU must be prepared to help implement and monitor this cease-fire — possibly also with soldiers, for example as part of an EU mission," Politico quoted Borrell as telling German weekly Spiegel in an interview published Friday.

The EU foreign policy chief’s proposal arrives hours before a conference in Berlin aiming to broker a peace deal between Libya’s U.N.-recognised, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA), which in April launched an offensive to capture the capital city.

Europeans have been entrusted by the United Nations to enforce the arms embargo in Libya, Borrell said, noting, "In reality, the arms embargo is ineffective. Nobody controls anything there”.

The UN has accused the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Turkey of repeatedly using subterfuge to get weapons into Libya and sometimes “blatantly” flouting an international arms embargo prohibiting arms to the country. 

The EU has thus far shied away from putting boots on the ground in Libya, torn apart by a civil war that also involves mercenaries paid by Turkey and Russia, who back opposite sides in the conflict, Politico said.

Ankara backs the internationally recognised Islamist-rooted Libyan GNA, while Moscow supports LNA General Khalifa Haftar.

“In the past six months Turkey and Russia have gained massive influence in Libya, and they are using it," Borrell said. "Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have at least succeeded in preparing a temporary cease-fire between the hostile parties in Libya. This is potentially good news for the people of Libya."

It is important to take decisive steps forward in Berlin on Sunday, Borrell said. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an op-ed for Politico on Saturday called on the EU to work with Ankara on a military solution for the war-torn country because the bloc was “less interested in providing military support to Libya.”